Asian Games: Five memorable moments | Inquirer Sports

Asian Games: Five memorable moments

/ 03:19 PM September 11, 2014

A gymnast practices her routine on the balance beam with the national flag of North Korea in the background on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. In just over a week, North Korea will send its top athletes to win gold for their leader in what could well be the biggest sporting event of their lives and a major propaganda campaign for their nation, the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

SEOUL — Five memorable Asian Games moments ahead of the start of the 17th edition in Incheon on September 19:

Red faces over blue moon


Singapore were left red-faced at the 2010 Asiad in Guangzhou when their water polo team wore “inappropriate” swimming trunks emblazoned with the city-state’s flag.


The white, banana-shaped crescent moon on the groin of the bright red trunks drew laughs as well as praise from Singaporeans, some of whom found it “sexy” and “cool”.

However, the government took a dim view and condemned the suggestive design. “We want elements of the flag to be treated with dignity,” the information ministry said.

Sun lights up the Games

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang burst into the public eye in Guangzhou four years ago when he came within a whisker of the long-standing 1500m freestyle world record, aged just 18.

Sun smashed the Asian record by more than 10 seconds to win gold in 14min 35.43sec — less than a second shy of the 2001 mark set by Australia’s Grant Hackett.

Sun has since gained superstar status by winning two gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, along with five world titles, and twice lowering Hackett’s hallowed record.


North Korea’s unlikely idols

Athletes weren’t the only stars of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea — they had to share the limelight with North Korea’s outsized cheerleading team.

Some 280 women, clad in identical uniforms, sang and danced their way with military precision into the hearts of South Korean spectators.

Mobbed by fans, the cheerleaders had more South Korean TV coverage than many of the sports events. News that they won’t be coming to Incheon has disappointed Asiad organizers.

Wickets not war for joyous Afghans

In 2010 war-torn Afghanistan’s cricket team caused rejoicing at home with their fairytale run to the final after they shocked Pakistan by 22 runs in the semis.

Players who learned the game as refugees in Pakistan left China with silver medals rather than gold as Afghanistan lost to Bangladesh in the final.

But Afghanistan had announced themselves as an emerging force. They are among the favorites in Incheon, and next year they will play their first one-day World Cup.

Where it all began

The inaugural 1951 Asian Games in New Delhi lasted just eight days and involved only 489 athletes — a far cry from the nearly 10,000 coming to Incheon.

Japan topped the table with 60 medals including 24 golds, while this year’s hosts South Korea did not even take part because of the Korean War.

Only 11 nations were represented in Delhi, compared to 45 in Incheon, and they competed in 12 sports, one-third of the 36 on the current schedule.


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TAGS: Asian Games, Sports

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